WASHINGTON – Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill announced late Wednesday that they are willing to go to the White House as scheduled for a meeting next week with President Bush on the supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The decision was announced after the president declined an invitation sent by Democrats to meet with them on Capitol Hill on Friday.
"Democrats in Congress want to sit down with the president to talk about the best way to both fully fund our troops and move forward in Iraq," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "We will be at the White House on Wednesday to talk with the president. We will listen to his position, but in return we will insist that he listen to concerns of the American people that his policies in Iraq have failed and we need to change course."
Pelosi's statement followed a day of back and forth over who should come to whom to discuss the bill, which calls for a timetable for withdrawal. Bush has said he will veto the $122 billion legislation if it includes a deadline for departure from Iraq.
Democrats sent a letter to Bush earlier in the day asking him to come up to Capitol Hill after they rejected what they say are "preconditions" on the White House meeting set to discuss stalled legislation that would fund American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On top of that, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested Bush isn't getting the information he needs to be able to make appropriate decisions for the course of the war.
“If the president is serious and not as isolated as people think he is, maybe he will take us up on this,” Reid said after sending the letter to Bush. "I think there should be Democrats and Republicans telling him what he needs to hear. Obviously, at the White House, all they are doing is telling him what he wants to hear.”
But White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said she hoped that the tone of the invitation from Reid and other Democrats "is not indicative of how the Democrats plan to so-called 'work together' to address" the dispute over attaching a timetable for withdrawal to any troop funding.